Students Create Mind-Bending Wooden Parametric Pavilion (Video)

© Maria Mingallon

Digital tools have been changing the face of design and production in the last couple of decades; from the democratizing of design to dynamic, digitally fabricated housing, all this points to an interesting future of design where seemingly impossible forms become possible for more people, with less waste.

© Maria Mingallon

Another example of this trend is this mind-bending pavilion recently created by architecture students at Montreal's McGill University -- a winning design from a school competition, in collaboration F.A.R.M.M. (Facility for Architectural Research and Media Mediation.

Characterized as "urban furniture" with a twist, the ContemPLAY pavilion's neverending, layered form is made possible thanks to parametric modelling software (Grasshopper), resulting in a striking three-dimensional moebius form, physically expressed in laminated plywood, steel tubing and metal, and supported by a triangular truss:

The pavilion’s hybrid lightweight space frame is formed by laminated plywood ribs and steel tubes clad with sinuous plywood strips. The complex structural system, in essence a space frame twisted around and attached to itself, provides a strong but flexible configuration that is capable of resolving the pavilion’s complex geometry without intruding upon the intended optical moiré effect. The effect is created by two apparent layers of cladding that define the volumetric envelope of the möbius strip. The laminated plywood ribs run along the möbius strip’s longitudinal isocurves, providing support for the moiré cladding elements, and are the main chords of the space frame.

© Maria Mingallon

Andrew Hruby, one member of the 15-person team, describes the possibilities behind parametric design in the McGill Reporter:

The main purpose of the class and of the pavilion itself is an exercise in parametric design, which means architecture not so much drawn but scripted. We’ve basically written a computer script that generates this form, and the drawings associated with it. In other words, you can play with the form of it, you can pull and stretch it or scale it up or down and the program would regenerate all of the same drawings and all of the same geometry and be just as easily built. You wouldn’t have to redraw everything.

© Maria Mingallon
© Maria Mingallon
© Maria Mingallon

It's fascinating to see the construction process in action:

Contemplay Pavilion from Andrew Hruby on Vimeo.

© Maria Mingallon

If you're in town and curious, the ContemPLAY pavilion can be found in McGill's downtown campus, in front of the Macdonald-Harrington Building. Lots more over at the ContemPLAY website, via World Architecture News.

Tags: Architecture | Dematerialization | Downloadable Design | Montreal | video